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Major labels expected to bid on Univision unit

The Spanish-language broadcaster could get $400 million for its Latin music division.

July 31, 2007|From Reuters

The world's largest music companies have expressed interest in buying Univision Communications Inc.'s music unit, with an auction expected to pick up this week, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

Potential bidders will start looking at the books of the Latin music unit. Univision decided in February to put it up for sale, according to a report in the Financial Times on Monday.

The Los Angeles-based Spanish-language broadcaster is trying to trim debt since its $12.3-billion buyout by private investors in March, one source said.

Meetings among management and some suitors are also set to begin this week, according to a second source. The unit could fetch as much as $400 million, according to the Financial Times.

Interest in the Latin music catalog of songs is being led by strategic bidders including New York-based Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company, and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a Santa Monica-based joint venture between Sony Corp. and pop star Michael Jackson.

Warner Music Group Corp. of New York and Britain's EMI Group have also shown interest, the second source said.

Latin music is considered to be one of the healthier genres in a music market struggling with declining CD sales and a move to digital downloads from the Internet.

Univision claims to be the largest Latin music company in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, accounting for nearly 40% of Latin music sales in those markets, according to its website.

Major music companies, which traditionally generated most of their revenue and profit from recorded music, have been bulking up their publishing assets in the last two years as a protection against declines in CD sales.

Univision and the music companies declined to comment.

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